Dog owner pleads guilty in deadly Bell Co. attack
The owner of two pit bulls responsible for a deadly Christmas Eve dog attack pleaded guilty on Wednesday morning. Johnny Lankford pleaded guilty to harboring a vicious animal in Bell County. He was sentenced to a year in jail.
The attack happened just before 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 24, 2017, on Highway 66 in the Wiser Branch area of Bell County. The victim's husband, John Saylor, says his wife, Lorraine Saylor, was attacked when she went outside to feed their cats. The dogs attacked him when he went out to check on her. John Saylor was able to fight the dogs off before going inside to get his gun. He says he shot them both. One died and the other ran off. He told WATE in Knoxville that, at first, he didn't realize the dogs had attacked his wife.
"I seen her body. I screamed 'God no. My baby, my baby, my baby'," John Saylor told WATE. "I knew she was gone I knew she was gone."
The Bell County Sheriff's Office says the second dog returned to the home where deputies shot it. Lankford was in the Bell County Detention Center on assault and domestic violence charges at the time of the attack. Those charges have not been resolved. He will be back in court in that case on January 9.
John Saylor suffered more than 20 bites. He and Lorraine had been married for 38 years.